Types of Doves: Everything you Need to Know

White doves are symbolic of joyous, happy occasions such as a wedding. Overall, there’s a lot that can be learned about doves and their various breeds. Such as what differentiates them from Pigeons, what kinds of environments they live in, and much more.

There are also a lot of different types of bird doves out there, beyond the well-known white dove. The variety of doves out there includes the mourning dove, the turtle dove, spotted dove, and the zebra dove, all of which are a part of the bird family called Columbidae, the same species that pigeon birds fall under, which explains a lot of the confusion when differentiating the birds out in the wild.

What’s the Difference Between Doves and a Pigeon Bird?

Generally, Doves have a better reputation than pigeons do, according to stereotypical ideas of what doves look like and where they’re usually present at least. Doves are commonly thought of as being beautiful white birds that are released during big, spectacular wedding ceremonies. While pigeons are the small, goofy birds who flock to the streets of the big cities in search of a bite to eat. Surprisingly these two birds are actually much more closely related than most people seem to believe. 

One of the more unique differences between these two birds is the origins of their names. The Dove’s name is of Nordic origin, while the pigeon got its name from the French. Otherwise, these two birds both come from the same family of birds called Columbidae. There is even one particular breed within this family that is known both as the rock dove and the rock pigeon. 

Generally, Doves are seen to the smaller of the two, meaning these two birds could possibly be differentiated by size. The name differentiation, however, is more so region-specific. For instance, in the Pacific, the difference is based on their size, but in South America, the two birds are just thrown into the umbrella category of pigeons and doves, rather than a pigeon or a dove. 

Can I Have a Pet Dove?

If you are wondering whether you could keep a dove as a pet, the answer to that question is yes, you can. Doves are actually common pets among bird owners all around the world. There are some breeds of doves that are more suited to be kept as a pet than others. The diamond dove and the ring-neck dove are two of the more common species of dove that are kept as pets. 

Diamond doves are generally smaller, around the size of a budgie or a canary. This gives potential dove owners a choice on whether they want a small or a large dove to be kept as a pet. You can keep these doves as either a single bird or as a pair that are meant to mate and produce offspring. Depending on where you live, your pet dove can either be kept outdoors or inside the house. 

Mourning Dove

Mourning doves are a common bird all across the United States. They are one of the birds you will commonly see sitting up on telephone wires, watching the people below pass by. These doves are known well for their fast and straight flight abilities, often compared to a speeding bullet. These doves are ones that you will find foraging for seeds on the group below them. 

The dove sounds that the mourning dove makes have been described as a sort of drawn-out cry or call. Their wings also make an audible sound. That’s to someone with a trained ear that is. The mourning dove wing sounds is often said to sound like a sort of whistle or whinny sound as they wiz by. 

Turtle Dove

Turtle doves are most commonly found throughout temperate and tropical environments. The ringneck dove and laughing dove are two other names that the turtle dove is often referred to as. The turtle dove actually has no reaction or association with the reptile called a turtle. Their name was derived from their sound that they make, which may come as a surprise to some people. 

Spotted Dove

This particular species of the dove is most often found in regions of Southeast Asia. Although over time their species have been introduced to new environments all around the world, so you may begin to find spotted doves in more regions these days. 


Doves have a long-standing reputation as being a beautiful white bird that is present during heartfelt ceremonies like weddings. What many people don’t know is that there is more kind of doves in the world other than just the stereotypical white ones.

Just like different types of birds, Doves come in a variety of colors, patterns, and sizes. There are also many similarities between doves and pigeons that many people don’t realize. Such as that in some countries doves and pigeons are considered nearly one in the same. That there isn’t much distinction to be made between the two birds aside from where they are found and in some cases their size difference. 

Ultimately, both birds are beautiful and anyone wouldn't have any second thoughts about adopting one.

What do doves eat?

Doves, much like pigeons, eat a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits, berries. All of which are food items they can find in nature or be provided within captivity. In the wild, they will also be caught eating a variety of bugs and worms that they find.

Are doves and pigeons the same?

Doves and pigeons belong to the same family of birds called “Columbidae”. They have similar physical features and could be easily confused with one another by someone who is unfamiliar with these breeds. Doves, however, tend to be smaller, while pigeons have a larger yet stubbier build about them.

What does a dove look like?

A dove is a small, rounded bird that can be found in a variety of colors, from pure white to variations of greys and browns. Female doves have a distinct “rosy” color about their neck and cheeks, giving them a more feminine appearance overall.

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Written by Leo Roux

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